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AirTran's Deals Through November

This week's AirTran (tel. 800/AIR-TRAN; www.airtran.com) sale features one-way fares starting at $44 before taxes. Offer is valid for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays through November 17. Avoid blackout dates on May 28, 31, June 18-20, 25-27, July 2, 3, 5, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31, and August 1, and 6-8.

Fares require a 10-day advance purchase. All bookings must be made by 11:59pm ET, May 6.

Round-trip fares include:

Web Specials From Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines' (tel. 800/426-0333; www.airtran.com) latest specials start at $99 before taxes. Rules and restrictions vary by route, though most are valid for travel from May 17 through May 30. Round-trip fares require a 14-day advance purchase and include:

New Service to Hawaii From Alaska Airlines

As of October 1, 2010, Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/426-0333; www.alaskaair.com) will begin daily service between San Diego and Kahului-Maui, as well as add a daily flight between Portland and Honolulu starting September 20. Seasonal service between Portland and Kona four times a week begins November 12.

Of course all these newly souped-up routes are available at special introductory fares, starting at $159 one-way. Travel rules and restrictions vary according to city:

Travel between San Diego and Maui is valid Mondays-Thursdays, September 20, 2010-February 11, 2011. Travel between Portland and Maui is valid Mondays-Thursdays, September 8, 2010-February 11, 2011. Travel between Portland and Honolulu is valid Mondays-Thursdays, September 20, 2010-February 11, 2011. Travel between Portland and Kona is valid Mondays and Wednesdays, November 12, 2010-February 11, 2011.

Blackout dates of Nov. 18-22, and Dec. 15-25, 2010 apply for travel to Hawaii, and Nov. 26-30, Dec, 26-31, 2010, and Jan. 1-3, 2011, apply to travel from Hawaii.

All round-trip fares must be purchased by May 4, and include:

Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Lewisburg, WV, on Sale From Delta

Save on travel to/from Minneapolis, with the current sale from Delta Airlines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com). This offer is good for travel through November 17, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Avoid blackout dates May 28, 31, June 18-20, 25-27, July 2-3, 5, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31, August 1, and 6-8, 2010. Fares require a 10-day advance purchase, and Saturday-night stay.

All tickets must be purchased by May 6. Round-trip fares include:

Atlanta fares are valid for travel through June 30 and require a 7-day advance purchase and Saturday night stay. No blackout dates. Purchase by May 3. Round-trip fares include:

Also from Delta: Greenbrier/Lewisburg, WV is discounted through November 16, with no blackout dates. Fares require a 21-day advance purchase, and a 3-night minimum stay. All purchases must be made by May 13. Round-trip fares include:

Airfare Alerts Really Work. Have You Signed Up?

Just as it's impossible to predict the stock market (why aren't all those Wall Street prognosticators richer than Midas by now?), anyone who pretends to know whether airfares are headed up or down is just fooling with you. There are just too many variables, and airlines are just too capricious to allow themselves to be outguessed.

That said, over a dozen websites will tell you when a fare on a route has gone down in price. They provide this service for free, and it's the absolute best way to find a deal. Only caveat: you have to work fast. The best fares get snapped up, and some deals last only for a matter of hours, or even minutes.

Lest you think that you can just sign up for one of these alerts services, you should know that they all work a bit differently. And lest you think that as the creator of Airfarewatchdog.com I'm a completely unreliable source, I'll say that sites we've analyzed do a better job than we do in some respects. (Did I really say that? Um, yes, I did).

How do the various sites differ, and which best suits your travel needs? Find out.

Additional reporting by Tracy W. Stewart

George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and blogger whose website, www.airfarewatchdog.com, tracks unadvertised airfare wars and fare sales, including the most helpful and always updated Top 50 Airfares.

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